Caroline Leaf At London Animation Club

Monday 27th July

The sixth of our London Animation Club Television broadcasts, in which Martin interviews celebrated American/Canadian animator Caroline Leaf. We screened three works, The Owl Who Married A Goose (1974), The Interview (1979) and Two Sisters (1990). As well as her animation work, we also spoke at length about her recent work, painting in oils and other media. Caroline is known for her short direct animation films using innovative materials like beach sand and wet paint to tell stories. She currently lives in London and works as a fine arts painter.


Biography Caroline Leaf’s animated story telling films are renowned for their emotional content and graphic style, closely tied to the innovative straight ahead animation techniques she developed. Leaf began to make animated films as a student at Harvard University in Boston in 1968. Her first film, ‘Sand or Peter and the Wolf’, was made with a bucket of local beach sand poured out onto a lightbox and lit from below to create a world of moving shadowy figures. Her subsequent films are refinements and extensions of this straight ahead under-the-camera technique.

In 1972 Leaf moved to Montreal at the invitation of the National Film Board of Canada, a publicly funded Canadian production centre renowned for its animation. There she worked as a staff animator/director until 1991. She also became a naturalized Canadian citizen. Her major animated films from these years are: ‘The Owl Who Married a Goose’, ‘The Street’, ‘The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa’, ‘Interview’, and ‘Two Sisters’. Leaf was designer, story adaptor and/or scriptwriter for all of her films, and worked closely on the sound and editing.

Her film awards include: Academy Award Nomination for ‘The Street’, Grand Prix at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for ‘The Street’, Grand Prix at the International Festival of Short Films Krakow, Poland for ‘The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa’, Grand Prix at Melbourne for ‘Interview’ and Grand Prix at the 4th Los Angeles International Animation Celebration for ‘Two Sisters’, which also won the Grand Prix at Ottawa International Animation Festival. In 2017 she received an Annie life achievement award in Hollywood and in 2019 she received the Dragon of Dragon award from the Krakow Animation Festival. Leaf’s teaching experience includes workshops in many parts of the world.

She taught the animation course at Harvard University from 1996 – ’98 and from 2002 – 2005 she taught at Konstfack, Sweden. From 2005 – 2009 she was part time senior tutor at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield near London where she continues to tutor occasionally. Today Leaf lives in London, UK, where she maintains a studio and works as a fine arts painter in oils, watercolour and mixed media.